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Exclusivity! Wh-fronting is not optional wh-movement in Colloquial French

Richard Faure 1, 2 Katerina Palasis 3, 1
1 BCL, équipe Dialectologie et Linguistique formelle
BCL - Bases, Corpus, Langage (UMR 7320 - UCA / CNRS)
2 BCL, équipe Linguistique de l’énonciation
BCL - Bases, Corpus, Langage (UMR 7320 - UCA / CNRS)
3 BCL, équipe Langage et Cognition
BCL - Bases, Corpus, Langage (UMR 7320 - UCA / CNRS)
Abstract : This article revisits the long-standing issue of the alternation between wh in-situ and wh-ex-situ questions in French in the light of diglossia and cross-linguistic data. A careful preliminary examination of the numerous wh-structures in Metropolitan French leads us to focus on Colloquial French, which undoubtedly displays both wh-in-situ and wh-ex-situ questions.Within this dataset, wh-ex-situ questions without the est-ce que ‘is it that’ marker are more permissive than in-situ regarding weakislandhood and superiority. In a Relativized Minimality framework, we suggest that wh-ex-situ items bear an additional feature, which permits them to bypass these constraints. Colloquial French is thus a wh-in-situ language that allows for wh-ex-situ under specific conditions, like other wh-in-situ languages. Hence we argue against free variation and claim that wh-fronting is not driven by a wh-feature, but by another feature. Exploring the contexts where wh-ex-situ is licensed, we highlight a type of non-exhaustive contrast specific to questions, namely Exclusivity, and provide a formalization. The article therefore also contributes to the larger debate on information structure in questions.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 5, 2021 - 12:33:58 PM
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Richard Faure, Katerina Palasis. Exclusivity! Wh-fronting is not optional wh-movement in Colloquial French. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Springer Verlag, 2021, ⟨10.1007/s11049-020-09476-w⟩. ⟨hal-03132691⟩



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